The Cancer Alliance is a collective group of cancer control non-profit organisations and cancer advocates brought together under a common mandate, to provide a platform of collaboration for cancer civil society to speak with one voice and be a powerful tool to affect change for all South African adults and children affected by cancer.

2011 Voice Of Cancer Survivor Forum

In May 2011 the Voice of Cancer Survivor Forum was held in Cape Town to create an opportunity for cancer survivors to express their needs regarding quality of care, attitudes, practices, policies of cancer control and services in South Africa

This Forum sought to bring together those affected by cancer: cancer survivors, media, NGOs, advocates, the health sector and Government to provide data, information and awareness of the cancer burden and issues faced by South African’s and in doing so sparked an impetus by all to affect change.

From the outset, the Forum aimed to:

  • Provide qualitative and quantitative information clearly highlighting the cancer burden in South Africa as well as focusing on access to treatment, care and quality of life.
  • Discuss the social issues relating to cancer in South Africa by creating an encouraging platform for survivors, of all cultures and ages, to share their stories.
  • Make stakeholders, government and the general public aware of the need for national strategies to increase and improve cancer related services.
  • Discuss channels that could encourage multi-level stakeholder involvement in the development and implementation of national strategies to improve cancer-related services.

The meeting included presentations from local experts in cancer burden and social stigma. Themes of economics, political will and ethical practice were also addressed by Key Opinion Leaders. Survivors and advocates spoke of the challenges faced in their cancer journey, civil society and government highlighted existing intervention in cancer control. Survivors and advocates spoke with one voice to an audience of government leaders, healthcare professionals, corporate heads and individual members of their community.

Agreement on Ideals for the Future

At the end of Day two the presentations, stories, questions asked and thoughts shared resulted in the following agreements, which now paved the way forward for the Cancer Alliance:

  • Cancer survivors of all ages have a valid reason to make a case with regards to inequalities in quality access to treatment and care and that they have the right to quality healthcare, as enshrined in the constitution.
  • The power of survivor’s stories was acknowledged as a voice for the voiceless.
  • The importance of working together to combat our cancer burden was acknowledged.
  • Through defined collaboration civil society could speak with one voice to be a powerful tool to affect change for all cancer survivors.
  • The opportunity and value of sharing each other’s’ points of view was acknowledged and that change comes when we choose to commit to it.
  • It is each citizen’s human right to access each aspect of the cancer continuum – timeous and free from stigma and discrimination.
  • The role of the media in educating the general public about cancer and making cancer voices heard was acknowledged.

National Call to Action

During the Forum meeting, civil society’s declaration of unity was based on the founding principle that it would be disrespectful of the courage and conviction shown by each survivor telling their story not to develop a call to action that would act as a mandate to guide all actions that strive to ensure a better journey for all cancer survivors.

As a result all 200 stakeholder representatives attending the Forum  committed to taking collaborative action against the threat cancer poses to our health system by adding their voice to a National Call to Action, which was seen as the Forum’s key outcome.

The following themes were outlined in the National Call to Action:

  1. To ensure that cancer becomes a National Priority
  2. The Development of a National Cancer Control Plan
  3. The improvement of Cancer Registries and Data
  4. To ensure Investment and Funding for Education, Training and Infrastructure
  5. To Reduce Stigma and Discrimination for Cancer Patients and Survivors

It was envisaged that this commitment to the National Call to Action would promote activities by each cancer civil society group to actively find strategies, develop leadership and implement actions that will create a collective voice against cancer. The Cancer Alliance has adopted the themes of the  National Call to Action’s as the starting point for the development of it goals and programmes.